Romney, Revisited: 2012's Unlikable Rich Guy is 2020's Trumpist Traitor
You can’t spell MITT ROMNEY without M-O-N-E-Y.
JUST AS George W. Bush doesn’t seem so terrible when compared with Donald John Trump, so Mitt Romney presents as some combination of Mr. Rogers and Mr. Smith next to Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, and the rest of the more overtly corrupt Republicans in the Senate. Maybe he will do the right thing? Romney’s seat is safe; he’s no longer aspiring to higher office; he’s stood up to Trump before, albeit modestly. This has led some to hope that maybe, just maybe, Mittens will have a McCain-thumbs-down moment during the impeachment trial:
Kurt Andersen @KBAndersenDear @MittRomney: This is the character-testing moment of your life. This is your opportunity to make history, become a leader, even a hero. You have more power this week and next than any senator apart from @senatemajldr. Use it.
But make no mistake—George W. Bush was a fuck-awful president, head and shoulders worse than any previous White House occupant since before the Civil War. Trump being all “hold my beer” doesn’t change that. And the Spanish Armada could sail through the gap between “more awful than Ted Cruz” and “awful.” That is the space in which the milquetoast Senator from Utah has located himself, now and always. It should be etched on his tombstone: “Mitt Romney: He wasn’t as awful as Ted Cruz.”
To be fair, I too forgot what a shit Mitt Romney is. To remind myself of his unimpeachable awfulness, I read through some of the pieces I wrote about him during his presidential campaign of 2012. Below the fold is one of those pieces, which originally ran at The Weeklings on 18 September 2012. I submit this now to jog your own memory of why we loathed Romney eight years ago, and why our loathing was justified:
AT A TIME when poverty is at record levels, and the income gap between rich and poor is the highest in almost half a century, it is telling that the Republicans have decided to run a candidate who is basically a younger, handsomer version of Rich Uncle Pennybags. Is there anyone who better exemplifies the One Percent than Willard Mitt Romney? Heck, even his name sounds like it’s a unit of currency: The dollar’s up against the romney, Wolf, while the yen’s holding steady. Remember, you can’t spell MITT ROMNEY without M-O-N-E-Y.
Despite being, by all accounts, a relatively frugal multi-millionaire—he thinks flying first class is a waste of money, and so on—Romney has managed to cast himself as the Unlikable Rich Guy. Consider:
He’s worth a quarter of a billion dollars, although no one knows how much exactly, because a lot of that dough is parked in Cayman Islands tax shelters and secret Swiss bank accounts.
He amassed this grotesque fortune while at Bain Capital, a company that made money buying companies, restructuring them to run more efficiently (by laying off workers and closing plants), and then selling them at a profit—a business model that can charitably be termed “sleazy.”
He owns a shit-ton of real estate, and so many automobiles that, at one of his many manses, he constructed an elevator for his fleet of cars.
Before a half-empty stadium in Detroit, he lauded the resurgent American auto industry (which he would have allowed to go bankrupt) by declaring that some of his wife’s cars were Cadillacs.
He blew $77 grand on a freaking dressage horse, and then wrote it off.
When trying to present himself as an auto-racing fan, he remarked that some of his closest friends were NASCAR owners.
Then, this weekend, he defined “middle-income Americans” as those making between $200-$250k a year; when pressed on this preposterously out-of-touch statement, he qualified it by saying he meant household income, not personal income. And then, yesterday, this video got leaked:
Remember back in 1992, when George Bush père didn’t know how to use the scanner at the supermarket? This is like that, but with compound interest. Mitt is totally fucking clueless. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were photographed lighting $100 bills on fire.
(Actually, that would surprise me. Romney’s attitude toward wealth is so reverential, so solemn, he makes the very idea of being rich seem like a drag. The most outlandish thing he’s ponied up for—other than his campaign—is that dressage horse. Which is maybe not what you or I would blow our money on. Mitt needs to take a page from the hip hop handbook and spring for a diamond-studded grill, or new rims for the tour bus, or something equally extravagant. What’s the point of accumulating all that coin if you don’t even enjoy it? When James Mayer Rothschild became obscenely wealthy in the 19th century, he bought Château Lafite, the best vineyard in the world; Romney doesn’t even drink coffee.)
As if his complete ignorance of how most Americans live were not enough, the key plank in his campaign platform is to cut taxes on the rich, and to pay for the loss in revenue by gutting welfare programs. Romney might as well call himself Dooh Nibor, because he’s Robin Hood in reverse. If there were any doubt about his intentions if elected, the selection of Paul Ryan and his fuck-the-poor budget eliminated them, sure as a Romney/Ryan ticket would eliminate as many “entitlements” as they could get away with.
Given that the election is supposed to be about the economy, which continues to flop about like a dying trout on the deck of a fishing boat, it boggles the mind how anyone below the $200,000 “middle-income” threshold would consider voting for him. I’m talking about the alleged 47 percent of the population who “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it,” as Romney elegantly phrased it in that leaked fundraiser video.
Indeed, Mitt’s most ardent supporters are 1) casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who stands to save so much under Romney’s tax plan that he’s offered to pony up $100 million to help defeat Obama; 2) Edward “Hoisted on His Own” Conard, a Bain man, who wrote a book this year arguing that what America needs is more income inequality; and 3) aging blue-movie star and plastic-surgery cautionary tale Jenna Jameson, who explained her position thus, in between sips of Cristal: “I’m very looking forward to a Republican being back in office. When you’re rich, you want a Republican in office.”
Although the Queen of Porn cannot speak for all rich people, plenty of whom prefer Obama, she is at least nakedly honest about her motives. Then again, Romney himself has been unequivocal about tax cuts for the “job creators”; it’s the one thing he hasn’t waffled on. I mean, he’s not even trying to pretend that he gives a shit about us “lower income” Americans. All 47 percent of us. Which means that if Romney takes the White House, it won’t be Jenna Jameson who gets fucked.
Okay, back to 2020. I am happy to be proven wrong. It would be wonderful if Romney led a coalition of intrepid GOP Senators against Trump, McConnell, and Vladimir Putin. But I think it’s more likely that he’ll pound a flight of ice-cold shots of Stolichnaya. This American oligarch, this Mnuchin prototype, is not going to save us.
I’m way more than 47 percent sure of that.